A Song Flung Up to Heaven

by Maya Angelou

Hardcover, 2002




Random House (2002), Edition: 1st, 224 pages


In a sixth memoir, the author and poet describes her return from Africa to the U.S., her work with the civil rights movement, and the writing of her first autobiographical work, "I know Why the Caged Bird Sings."


½ (74 ratings; 3.8)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Darrol
Classic of African-American autobiography, from the death of Malcolm X to the death of MLK to the beginning of Angelou's first autobiographical volume. Interesting vignettes about having a relationship with an African man.
LibraryThing member mich_yms
The book starts at the point where Angelou is just now leaving Ghana and on her way back to the States, where she is to help Malcolm X in his campaign. She decides that she wants to go see her mother and brother before taking on the task proper, but by page 26, Malcolm X is shot dead. The book ends
Show More
with another death, this time the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., just as as she is offered a position to help in his campaign. It is while coming to terms with King’s death that she is given the chance to write a memoir, a full circle back to how I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing started.

In this book, Maya Angelou tells you it’s okay to be emotional, to break down and cry, when things don’t go well. But she also tells you that after having that good cry, you must wipe your tears dry, stand up, and face another day with your head held high. And the best part is, she tells you all this without being preachy about it.
Show Less
LibraryThing member VikkiLaw
Not as rich and detailed as her previous biographies...I felt like it rushed along to the conclusion.
LibraryThing member lgaikwad
When I reach for a Maya Angelou book, I do so because her thoughts center me. I think I have heard what she has to say and more of her story is likely more of what I already know. Yet, upon reading, I am always hearing new things from her. And I appreciate that she shares her mother's advice on
Show More

This book is about the year's after her return from Ghana. The leaving of her African love, her son's rebellious teen years, her involvement in US African-American civil rights, and "where she was" when Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr were killed.

It also seems to be the prelude to her establishment as a writer, describing her process of discovery and those who made writing possible for her.
Show Less
LibraryThing member ValerieAndBooks
A Song Flung Up to Heaven is the sixth in the series of Maya Angelou's autobiographies, all of which has been a personal reading project of mine in the past year or so. Not as substantive as the previous ones -- my edition is double-spaced and 210 pages long -- or as deep. Still good,
Show More

Beginning just after she leaves from her long-term stay in Ghana, Angelou has promised to go to work again for Malcolm X, but he is assassinated before she has the chance to do so. After a time, she finds work in Watts, Los Angeles, and is actually there while the riots erupt in 1965. She sees it all first-hand, but without going into depth about the whys of the riots.

It's really interesting how Angelou was close to so many historical events. She even made an agreement to collaborate with Martin Luther King on some civil-rights activities, but not to start until after a commitment she had to host her own birthday bash. He was assassinated just hours before the party was to start.

This autobiography ends with Angelou beginning the work on her very first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which, when it became a best-seller, made her more well-known than ever. Probably because of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , Angelou is best-known today for her writings than her music, dancing, theater work, civil rights works -- she was not completely unknown before she became a published author.

Interestingly, there is one story in here that lends to the often quoted phrase that's credited to her, although the words she uses aren't exact here. The famous (and a very wise one, indeed) phrase is "When people show you who you are, believe them the first time". Angelou tells of meeting someone who basically says he himself is a jerk -- and she is all, oh surely you are not, but then he does something that shows that he really is a jerk. She ends this story with "Believe people when they tell you who they are. They know themselves better than you...I didn't know him well enough to know if he was or wasn't a liar, but I found out he was certainly mean and he was ornery" (p. 92).
Show Less


Grammy Award (Winner — 2003)
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Nominee — Nonfiction — 2003)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

224 p.; 5.71 inches


Page: 0.7652 seconds